Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your American Cocker Spaniel puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in American Cocker Spaniels, the best dog food diet for feeding American Cocker Spaniel puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

American Cocker Spaniel dog breed

American Cocker Spaniel Health Problems and Raising an American Cocker Spaniel Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

The most common health problems in American Cocker Spaniels:

Unfortunately, this lovely little breed is so fraught with health problems that it is very, very difficult to keep one healthy healthy for a normal lifetime.

Let's start with eyes. Severe cataracts can appear at 1-5 years old and often progress to complete blindness. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) can appear at 3-6 years old and glaucoma at 5-8 years old – both leading to blindness. Other eye diseases in Cockers include corneal dystrophy, cherry eye, dry eye, eyelid abnormalities (entropion and ectropion), eyelash abnormalities, tear duct disorders, persistent pupillary membranes, and retinal dysplasia.

Moving on to the skin, American Cockers are notorious for itchy skin conditions such as allergies, pyoderma, and seborrhea. Growths on the skin are common – both non-tumorous growths (especially sebaceous cysts) and tumorous growths (especially sebaceous tumors, basal cell tumors, and breast tumors). A few black Cockers have been reported with the skin disease follicular dysplasia.

Ear infections occur in American Cockers more frequently than in any other breed. This is because the abnormally long, narrow ear canal of this breed traps wax, providing a sticky medium in which fungi can grow and parasites can feed. The folded-over ear flap blocks air from circulating and provides a dark, moist, dirty cave for fungi and parasites to hide. And all the hair inside the ears acts as a magnet for moisture, dirt, and wax. Ear hematoma is also common in Cockers.

The most common orthopedic disease in Cocker Spaniels is luxating patella (loose knees). The Orthopedic Foundation of America found that 25% of American Cockers are affected with loose knees. That's 1 in every four Cockers – the 3rd highest rate of all breeds. Hip dysplasia occurs in Cockers, as well, with the OFA evaluating the hip X-rays of 9800 American Cockers and finding 6% dysplastic. Another orthopedic disease occurring regularly in the breed is interverterbral disk disease.

According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, American Cocker Spaniels have the 13th highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds (up to 23% affected).

Epilepsy occurs regularly and heart disease (patent ductus arteriosus and pulmonic stenosis) is becoming a concern.

American Cockers are susceptible to blood-clotting diseases (von Willebrand's disease, Factor X deficiency, and thrombocytopenia).

Other health issues in the breed include liver disease (hepatitis) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Occasionally reported have been lysosomal storage disease, cerebellar ataxia, PFK deficiency, and chondrodysplasia.


Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR American Cocker Spaniel?

Yes, often you can.

  1. Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in American Cocker Spaniels today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find an American Cocker Spaniel puppy who is genetically healthy.
  2. Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Cocker Spaniel puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.

Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy American Cocker Spaniel puppy or adult dog:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Cocker Spaniel lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your American Cocker Spaniel
The best diet for feeding your Cocker Spaniel is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your American Cocker Spaniel. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Cocker Spaniel
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your American Cocker Spaniel. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your American Cocker Spaniel puppy really need? Does your adult Cocker Spaniel need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your American Cocker Spaniel. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your American Cocker Spaniel. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Cocker Spaniel.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.